WGAR News: Will they be heard? - independent report on NT Intervention "consultations" (29 Nov 09)

WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)

WGAR website: http://wgar.info/

Will they be heard? - independent report on NT Intervention "consultations"
Alice Springs Aboriginal Town Camps Court ruling


- Report

Will they be heard? - a response to the NTER Consultations - June to August 2009
Introduction by the Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC
Prepared by Alastair Nicholson, Larissa Behrendt, Alison Vivian, Nicole Watson and Michele Harris
Research Unit, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning
Nov 2009: "II. Summary Points
37. The consultation process undertaken by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (‘FaHCSIA’) in relation to the Northern Territory Emergency Response (‘NTER’) is insufficient to qualify as indicating consent by Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory to special measures for the purposes of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth).
38. The deficiencies in the process include:
a. Lack of independence from government on the part of the people undertaking the consultancy;
b. Lack of Aboriginal input into design and implementation;
c. Lack of notice;
d. An absence of interpreters;
e. The consultations took place on plans and decisions already made by the government;
f. Inadequate explanations of the NTER measures;
g. Failure to explain complex legal concepts; and
h. Concerns about the government’s motives in implementing consultation. ... "

- Media Releases

Melbourne Law School: The University of Melbourne:
The Hon. Malcolm Fraser launches “Will they be heard?” report
23 Nov 09: "Former Prime Minister, the Hon. Malcolm Fraser, has joined legal experts and community group “concerned Australians” in calling for the Rudd Government to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act, in line with human rights principles, as he launched the “Will they be heard?” report at Melbourne Law School, today. In launching “Will they be heard?”, the Hon. Malcolm Fraser, said the report provided detailed evidence that the Government’s consultation with Aboriginal communities was significantly flawed and had a predetermined end, that resulted in the views of Aboriginal communities not being heard, even though the imposition of “special measures” such as income management, would have a profound and direct affect on communities."

Greens: Independent report suggests Macklin's attempts to restore the RDA will fail
23 Nov 09: "An independent report released today on recent Northern Territory reform consultation undermines any attempt by Minister Jenny Macklin to restore the Racial Discrimination Act by appealing to 'special measures.' The independent report is at odds with the FaHCSIA consultation report and media statements today by Minister Jenny Macklin - who claims the consultations were 'comprehensive' and highlighted comments supporting the NTER. "The independent report concludes that serious deficiencies in FaHCSIA's consultation process mean that it cannot be legally considered as indicating consent to the use of discriminatory measures for the purposes of the Racial Discrimination Act," said Greens Aboriginal Issues spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert."

STICS - Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney
RDA reinstatement masks continuation of racist laws
24 Nov 09: "The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) has condemned Minister Jenny Macklin's plans to introduce legislation this week, which characterise NT Intervention controls as "special measures" under the Racial Discrimination Act (1975). ... "The government claims to have held over 500 consultations - as though Intervention policies have the support of effected communities. However, the results of these consultations were exposed as a farce the same day they were released. The consultations were subject to devastating criticisms by scholars like Alastair Nicholson and Larissa Behrendt. They've shown that the decision to continue the Intervention was made before the process started, and the government structured meetings to stifle opposition." "

Greens: NTER reform consultation meeting transcripts denied public scrutiny
26 Nov 09: "The Senate today refused an Australian Greens' motion to make available transcripts of the Government's Northern Territory reform consultation meetings. ... "An independent report has shown that deep flaws exist in the Government's consultation process. Yet the Government is claiming there is support for continuing the use of discriminatory measures, which is not consistent with the findings of the Independent Review." ... "The independent report identified significant problems in the manner in which the consultation meetings they attended were conducted, and released full transcripts that support these claims," said Senator Siewert."

- Opinion

ABC Unleashed: Will they be heard?
26 Nov 09: "The Government plans to introduce amendments to Parliament that have the effect of reviving the Racial Discrimination Act in those NT Aboriginal communities affected by the Howard Government's 2007 Intervention. While this is to be applauded, it appears that the Government also wants to preserve aspects of the Intervention and has held 'consultations' with the communities which it hopes will enable it to characterise a number of measures, including compulsory income protection as 'special measures' under the Act." Alastair Nicholson

Crikey: Jenny Macklin turns a deaf ear to intervention gripes
24 Nov 09: "Yesterday a group of well-qualified commentators released a report called Will they be heard?, which involved a detailed analysis of more than nine hours of consultations between FaHCSIA and Aboriginal communities at Bagot, Utopia and Ampilatwatja, plus government summaries of all consultations held." Eva Cox

New Matilda: The Government Wants A Word With You
23 Nov 09: "The Rudd Government seems to have a very interesting idea of what 'community consultation' actually means, writes Sarah Burnside ... Tomorrow, at Melbourne Law School, speakers including former prime minister Malcolm Fraser and retired Melbourne bishop Hilton Deakin will launch a report entitled Will they be heard? A response to the NTER consultations June — August 2009. The report is based on independent records of recent consultations held at the Northern Territory communities of Utopia, Bagot and Ampilatwatja." Sarah Burnside

- Video

Vimeo: NT Intervention "consultations" at three communities
by Eleanor Gilbert
26 Nov 09: "Recordings of the "consultations" at Bagot Community, Ampilatwatja and Arlparra/Utopia - 5 minutes from each community"

Vimeo: "Will They Be Heard": Malcolm Fraser launches independent report on NT Intervention "consultations"
by Eleanor Gilbert
26 Nov 09: "Malcolm Fraser, former PM's speech at the launch of the independent report "Will They Be Heard?" "

Vimeo: Alastair Nicholson's critique of NT Intervention "consultations"
by Eleanor Gilbert
27 Nov 09: "Alastair Nicholson, Former Chief Justice of the Family Court delivers his critique of the FHCSIA "consultations" and introduces Shane Charles, Prof Larissa Behrendt, Theo Mackaay"

- Radio

ABC Life Matters: Northern Territory consultation process 'flawed'
24 Nov 09: "The Australian government has recently consulted with Aboriginal communities about the Northern Territory Emergency Response, known as 'the Intervention', launched by the previous government. An independent report, Will They Be Heard?, has called the consultation process 'wasteful' and 'flawed'. It's identified a lack of independence and transparency with the process, and a failure to properly explain the 'special measures' and legal concepts. ...
Guests: Alaistair Nicholson, Co-author, Will They Be Heard? Former Chief Justice of the Family Court"

ABC PM: NT intervention deliberately ignored Indigenous views: report
23 Nov 09: "A new report accuses the Federal Government of deliberately ignoring the views of Aboriginal people on the Northern Territory Intervention. The former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser is launching the report this evening. The former Chief Justice of the Family Court Alastair Nicholson is one of the report's authors. It concludes that the government's "consultation" sessions were a sham, which offered the communities no choice on the Intervention's future."
[includes interview with Alastair Nicholson]

ABC PM: Minister defends intervention consultations
23 Nov 09: "The Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin says the report is wrong. Releasing the results of the government's consultations on the intervention today, she said that generally people had reported benefits from compulsory income management. She says the consultations were comprehensive and were also monitored by an independent agency."

- News

ABC: 'Inept' consultations ignored Indigenous views
24 Nov 09: "A new report accuses the Federal Government of deliberately ignoring the views of Aboriginal people on the Northern Territory Intervention. It concludes that the Government's "consultation" sessions were a sham, which offered the communities no choice on the intervention's future. ... The "Will They Be Heard" report has been put together by a community group called Concerned Australians."
[includes 72 comments]

National Indigenous Times:
Report revealing "fundamentally flawed" consultations backed by Australian Greens
24 Nov 09: "The Australian Greens have seized on the findings of an independent report as proof the Rudd government's consultations with Aboriginal communities over the Northern Territory intervention were flawed. Greens Indigenous spokeswoman Senator Rachel Siewert says discriminatory elements of the scheme must now be scrapped. "For all intents and purposes there has been a failure to consult," she said in a statement. "Claims of alleged support for the proposed measures are not credible, and the minister cannot use this process to claim genuine informed consent." "

Koori Mail: NTER reports diverge
[scroll down page] http://www.koorimail.com/index.php
24 Nov 09: "TWO divergent reports have been released on community consultations over the ongoing NT Emergency Response (NTER). Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser yesterday launched a report that argues the inadequacy of consultations held at Bagot, Ampilatwatja and Utopia, while Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin released a report on 500 meetings and workshops she said were 'extensive' and welcomed by many people as genuine."


- Media Release

Rollback the Intervention: Media Releases
26 Nov 09: "On behalf of my fellow applicants I am making a brief statement in relation to the court findings. We were pleased to hear we won the two court injunctions back on 6 August, today we are sadden by the court’s rulings. With the case, we were trying to give Aboriginal people affected by the government’s policies a chance to take part in the decision-making processes. We exercise our right under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which this government finally supports." Barbara Shaw, Mt Nancy Town Camp, Mpartnwe-Alice Springs

- News

National Indigenous Times:
Aboriginal pleas fall on deaf ears over town camp takeover: Shaw
27 Nov 09: "A Federal Court decision to allow the federal government to take over town camps in Alice Springs is further proof Aboriginal people are not being listened to, a town camp resident says. Mt Nancy town camp resident Barbara Shaw in August won an injunction to halt the activation of the leases of 16 Northern Territory Indigenous housing associations. The federal government said it wanted secure land tenure before spending money on new housing, refurbishments and other works. Ms Shaw argued the 40-year leases weren't in the interests of the Aboriginal people living in the camps and said there was no guarantee $100 million in promised funding would actually be spent."

National Indigenous Times:
Town camp takeover will allow work to start by Christmas: Henderson
27 Nov 09: "Work will begin before Christmas to improve the living standards of Aboriginal people in Alice Springs, following a federal court decision allowing the federal takeover of town camps. Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson made the promise in Parliament in Alice Springs on Thursday. He said he welcomed the Federal Court decision, handed down in Adelaide on Thursday, to dismiss an appeal against the planned takeover."

Australian: Court win paves way for camp upgrades
27 Nov 09: "THE federal government will urgently move to clean up Alice Springs Aboriginal town camps ahead of a $100 million package of housing upgrades, after a court rejected a last-ditch bid by residents to halt long-term lease deals."

Age: Town camp residents lose court challenge
27 Nov 09: "THE Federal Government will proceed with its $100 million plan to improve conditions in Alice Springs' decrepit town camps after a court yesterday rejected a legal challenge by indigenous residents. Led by Barbara Shaw, the camp residents argued that housing associations that control the camps had signed new 40-year subleases with the Government illegally, ... "

National Indigenous Times:
Rudd govt can proceed with Alice Springs town camp takeover: court ruling
26 Nov 09: "The federal government can take over town camps in Alice Springs after the Federal Court dismissed an appeal to the deal. Justice John Mansfield today dismissed an appeal against the planned takeover, launched by town camp resident Barbara Shaw."

Koori Mail: Alice Springs camps challenge fails
[scroll down page] http://www.koorimail.com/index.php
26 Nov 09: "ALICE Springs town camp residents have lost their legal bid to stop the Federal Government from taking over the leases on their land. The case, brought by town camp resident Barbara Shaw, was rejected by the Federal Court, but the judge has granted a temporary stay to allow for an appeal."

ABC: Alice town campers lose bid against takeover
26 Nov 09: "Alice Springs town camp residents have lost their case against a Federal Government plan to impose new lease agreements on their land. About 3000 people live in town camps on the outskirts of Alice Springs. The Government said it would compulsorily acquire the town camp land if residents did not sign new 40-year leases in exchange for the promise of housing upgrades."

ABC: Residents fail in town camp challenge
26 Nov 09: "The Federal Government says it will soon be able to start work cleaning up impoverished Indigenous town camps in Alice Springs after winning a vital legal challenge."

- Radio

CAAMA Radio News
(Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association):
27 Nov 09: "Alice Springs Town Camp residents have a week to appeal the decision by the Federal Court’s injuction of the Rudd Government land take over."

CAAMA Radio News
(Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association):
26 Nov 09: "Federal court has dismissed an appeal for the Federal Government’s land takeover for Tangentyere town camps."

ABC PM: Alice town camps sign lease deal with Commonwealth
26 Nov 09: "The Federal Government says it will soon be able to start work cleaning up the impoverished Indigenous town camps in Alice Springs. Sixteen of the camps have agreed to sign 40 year leases with the Commonwealth in return for hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent on new houses and infrastructure. That plan was put on hold when one resident launched a legal challenge to the leases. But that was dismissed in the Federal Court today."

ABC The World Today: Commonwealth wins court challenge
26 Nov 09: "BEN SCHOKMAN: I wouldn't say it's a disappointing outcome. I think the important message here is the fact that affected Indigenous communities feel as though they haven't had an adequate opportunity to participate in decision making about matters which affect them. Now the right of self determination is a fundamental human right and the approach that we're seeing of the current Federal Government is to entirely disregard that right. ELEANOR HALL: That's lawyer Ben Schokman."

- Background Info

Rollback the Intervention:
Background to the threatened Commonwealth acquisition of Alice Springs town camps

Tangentyere Council, Alice Springs:
Resolution on Lease Negotiations Close (22 May 09)

WGAR News:
Takeover of Aboriginal Land in Alice Springs (26 May 09):

WGAR News:
Compulsory Acquisition of Alice Springs Town Camps (30 May 09):

WGAR News:
National support for Tangentyere Council (3 June 09):

WGAR News:
Alice Springs town camps takeover (6 Jun 09):
[scroll down page] http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/story/wgar-news-marion-scrymgour-resigns-...

WGAR News:
Alice Springs town camps takeover (12 Jun 09):
[scroll down page] http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/story/wgar-news-darwin-town-camps-takeove...

WGAR News:
Alice Springs Town Camps (19 Jun 09):
[scroll down page] http://wgar.info/190609-northern-territory-intervention-two-years-on/

National Indigenous Times:
The Boxed Seat: A pox on all their houses (25 Jun 09)

WGAR News:
Alice Springs Town Camps (6 Jul 09)
[scroll down page] http://wgar.info/060709-indigenous-gap-widens/

National Indigenous Times: Special NIT Investigation:
Leaked advice reveals Rudd government’s deceit on NT
intervention consultations and Alice Springs town camps
land grab (6 Jul 09)

Age: NT council slams town camps plan (11 Jul 09)

WGAR News:
Attempt to Takeover Alice Springs Aboriginal Town Camps (20 Jul 09)

WGAR News:
Attempt to Takeover Alice Springs Aboriginal Town Camps (24 Jul 09)
[scroll down page] http://perth.indymedia.org/index.php?action=newswire&parentview=144879

WGAR News:
Challenge to Takeover of Alice Springs Aboriginal Town Camps (29 Jul 09)

WGAR News:
Deal or No Deal over Aboriginal Town Camps (1 Aug 09)

WGAR News:
Alice Springs Aboriginal Town Camps (6 Aug 09)
[scroll down page] http://perth.indymedia.org/index.php?action=newswire&parentview=145472

WGAR News:
Aboriginal Town Camps Takeover Delayed (8 Aug 09)

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WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)